The Veto 2 is one of America’s oldest fire engines and plays a significant role in the history of Groveland and the Groveland Fire Department.
As one of the earliest hand tubs in the country, it was built around the year 1798, and later purchased from what was then called the Town of Roxbury, Massachusetts at the selling price of $300. When this purchase was completed, the engine, 30 feet of hose, two axes, and several leather buckets were turned over to Dr. Jeremiah Spofford. The new equipment would take the name of “Engine 2” of the town of Bradford, Massachusetts (Groveland would remain a part of Bradford and not become its own town until 1850).
In 1841 the tub was renovated and its name changed to “Veto 2”. This name change was in honor of President John Tyler’s veto of a fiscal bill passed by a Whig Congress. The newly renovated engine was brought from Boston to Newburyport on a ship. From there The Veto was brought to Groveland, being received by a newly formed fire company for the area.
The first engine house for The Veto in Groveland was a small building located at 11 Elm Park. The hand tub was later moved to another building on Grove Street, right next to Elm Park, and then to a newly built engine house in 1887. In its later years of service, The Veto was in need of significant repairs, which prevented it from being used many times.
In the 1886 annual town meeting, the town voted to disband the old fire company and buy another fire engine, as well as preserve The Veto as a relic. The town replaced The Veto with a secondhand fire engine, “The Hancock” for the price of $400. A new fire company was formed with the purchase of the new engine. The Veto did see action once more when the big fire of May, 14, 1887 took place. This fire burned eight buildings near the bridge connecting Groveland to Haverhill, and The Veto was used to wet down adjacent buildings to prevent further loss. In 1960 The Veto was restored to almost original condition.
On Firefighter’s Sunday, June 13, 1999, a newly constructed VETO Museum at the Groveland Town Hall complex was dedicated to the late Groveland Fire Chief Harold Sturtevant, and to Earl Sweetser, Captain of the South Groveland Fire Station for many years. This project was made possible by a group of dedicated volunteers who sought to preserve an important part of our town. The dedicated efforts of Coleman Lee, Tracy Gilford, and Donald Greaney helped forever preserve this important piece of history and the legacy of the Groveland Fire Department’s dedicated firefighters.
While the Veto is rich in history it is about to enter a new chapter in its life. Town meeting appropriated the necessary funds to renovate the current museum. Plans have been developed to upgrade the museum and install a new HVAC system that will allow the environment to be controlled to further preserve the piece. After the museum has been completed an effort to fully research and restore the Veto will begin.